David Hutchens

Newsflash: The Process Doesn’t Revolve around You

You would be surprised – or maybe you wouldn’t – by how many people in your organization don’t understand how the organization accomplishes its work.

To be honest, it used to surprise us. We would run learning programs on a topic, like say, financial acumen, and it would never fail: People in the accounting department would say things like, “huh, I guess I should know these details about the balance sheet but I don’t.” And that’s coming from the guys in Accounting.

It’s an organizational myopia that we now recognize as commonplace. In fact, we empathize. We all have a tendency to view the world from the point of view of our own work, our own desk.

Like Galileo, leadership often involves delivering the unwelcome message that you, the individual, are not the epicenter of your organization’s process.

Fortunately, we at Blueline Simulations fare much better than Galileo for being the bearer of this message. In fact, we’ve found that giving people a view of the big picture is quite liberating, and a key step in generating organizational transformation.

And we have found that the best way to give that big picture is with an actual picture.

Using metaphors and a balance of both quantitative and qualitative data, we render the complex processes and work flows of your organization with a compelling degree of engagement.

Click Image to View Larger Version

Equipped with an enterprise view via a Blueline Blueprint Learning Visual, our learners report that:

  • I have a better appreciation for where I fit in the process.
  • Now I understand why the work those guys do in department X is so important.
  • I appreciate the difficult decisions that the leaders have to make to manage the many moving parts of this process.
  • I see ways to make my work more efficient, more focused, more optimized to the organization’s desired output.

Find out how a Blueline learning map can equip your people with an enriched understanding of your organization’s key processes and workflows. Contact us today for a demonstration.

We’re Not Trying to Diss on That Nice Bullet-Point Memo You Wrote, But…

Did you see my two previous blog posts? I wrote about the opportunity for greater linkage between communications and learning solutions; and then explored how narrative and metaphor have the unique ability to engage readers in a way that is highly participative.

Now let’s see if we can tie it all together.

At Blueline Simulations, we have developed a communication and learning tool that we call a Journey Map. It has proven to be a powerful device for:

  • Providing an easy-to-grasp overview of robust and complex messages.
  • Creating an involving narrative around organizational issues that allows readers to instantly see their role in the message.
  • Engaging readers at both a rational and an emotional level – so they don’t just understand the message urgency but feel it.

Here’s how it works. A Journey Map is a small graphic that is rich in both quantitative and metaphorical/narrative data. With dimensions of 11 x 17 (a standard “tabloid” sized page), the document is meant for “individual consumption” and not to be confused with our “Blueline Blueprint” learning technology.

The power of the Journey Map is not so much that it is “visual” (although that certainly grabs attention.) More importantly, it is “narrative”“ which means that it allows readers to connect not only with individual messages, but to better understand those messages in a context of how they relate to one another. These narrative-driven messages are “stickier” than those items in your bullet-point memo, leading to greater comprehension and retention. (Although I’m sure your memo is really good.)

The Onboarding Process as Narrative Journey

For example, one of our client partners worked with Blueline to rebuild its new-employee onboarding process. Of course, what is onboarding but one grand story? It’s a story about possibility, change, the aspirations of the new hire, and the vision that the new hire and the organization both share. Whew. That’s a lot of “tell”. And when you try to communicate all of that aspiration in a series of bullet points, you can hear all of the air going out of the balloon.

Part of our solution was to create a journey map graphic that depicted all of these messages in a single narrative, built around images and data. Suddenly the messages all clicked together: New hires were able to “find themselves” in the journey visual, while organizational leaders placed their progress in the context of a broader goal. This solution (along with our learning approach) has helped to create a best-in-class onboarding solution that is now regarded as one of the best in the country.

Organizational Change; Career Progression; Mentoring Structures; and More

Similarly, another of our client partners  – a global pharmaceutical company – was introducing a culture change with dramatic implications for how associates interacted with customers. By presenting the change in narrative format, associates were invited to reflect on their own role within the initiative, and recognize how their goals were in fact aligned with the goals of the organization. (This stands is stark contrast to the “defensive” response that leaders were expecting!)

In fact, our many case studies sound very much the same. Our client partners have brought us organizational challenges deep in complexity;¦and time and again have been astounded by how those complex messages can be rendered with clarity and emotional engagement in a simple graphical approach.

Of course, we’ve got more tricks up our sleeve. Give us a call today. We’ll give you a closer look at our Journey Map solutions. We’ve also got some ideas for couching your message in a narrative context for other communications, including:

  • Employee handbooks
  • Investor communications
  • Change, vision, and culture messages
  • Organizational identity (including onboarding audiences)

But enough about us. We want to hear your story. Contact us, and let’s explore some ways to bring it to life.


Communications and Learning Professionals: Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?

I’ve spent the past 20 years creating both communications solutions and learning solutions for some of the most influential companies in the world. One thing I’ve learned is that, from the organization’s point of view, those are two very different activities. Does the company need a communications campaign? Go hire the creative geniuses at Company A. Need a learning solution? Those would be the training hotshots over at Company B.

After all, communication is all about producing awareness; while the outcome of learning is new knowledge, skill and behavior.

Two totally different things. Right?

You would think so, considering how most organizations are structured. The communications folks sit on one floor of the building, while the learning and HR folks are on a different one. To get paid by everyone, I have to take an elevator.

At Blueline Simulations, we find these metaphorical and literal walls of separation unhelpful. After all, our professionals have extensive background in everything from organizational development to advertising to the fine arts. We believe your communications initiative should generate engagement and behavior change. And your learning programs should provide the message retention of a Madison Avenue ad campaign.

Come on, Corporate Communications and Training & Development. We love both of you the same! Let’s all get together!

We’ve been providing our clients with a unique mashup of learning and communications solutions for years now. We find that the people in Corporate Communications tend to join sides with the folks over in HR pretty quickly — especially once they see the power of aligning their efforts to create awareness, understanding, action, skill development, and exciting new ways of serving their constituents.

It all results in some pretty cool solutions. If you’re intrigued, we’d love to show you more! Stick around this blog. In our next post, we’ll show you some of the learning graphics and other tools we have developed to help our client partners achieve sustainable change.


Even when our work doesn’t feature prominently in a story in The Wall Street Journal, we are endlessly proud of what we achieve with our client partners. But every now and then, the splash is just a little bit bigger. So when our learning intervention dovetails with a bigger cultural issue – that is, when it becomes news– we take it in stride. It’s just part of what we do. The only difference is that it gives us a nice opportunity to share the story of our work with you.That’s the case here. Blueline Simulations isn’t explicitly named in this article; nor would it be appropriate for me to tell you which of the companies featured was our client.It started when our client partner asked us to conduct a “voice of the customer” intervention to help create change within their organization. Our process included interviews with internal stakeholders to reveal prevailing mental models; a proposal for internal change (based on the stakeholder’s perspectives — not ours!); and a collaborative, iterative process that resulted in new processes and new beliefs within the organization.If you know anything about pharma, you know that’s a tall order. And if you know anything about sales… that’s hallowed ground! The fact that the change took root – and today is featured in the Wall Street Journal – is testament to the integrity of the process, and the courage of our client.Take a look. It’s a great story. And it’s a story I’d love to help create in your organization as well.

A process for collaborative change: Blueline Simulations’ “Voice of the Customer.”

1. Listen first. A series of stakeholder interviews reveals prevailing biases and mental models.

2. Build a straw man. We propose a design that, significantly, is informed explicitly by the client’s own words.

3. Tell the story. We record a webinar and interim report to disseminate the design to key organizational influencers.

4. Test and refine the design. Stakeholder response leads us to produce a new iteration. This is in preparation of the next step.

5. Present the big idea. The final report is a testament to the work of the organization’s stakeholders… and becomes a powerful artifact for change.